Emerging and trending skills in Australia

State of Australia’s Skills 2021: now and into the future

Emerging and trending skills in Australia

By understanding which skills are emerging and trending in the labour market, we can identify how jobs are changing and which new jobs are emerging. This ultimately provides an opportunity to better equip the workforce with skills that align to those emerging jobs, as well as developing new skills that are emerging within jobs.

What are trending and emerging skills?

Both emerging and trending skills are of growing importance, but because they have slightly different impacts on the labour market, they have been defined separately.

Trending skills are defined as those that have grown over the past five years. They are not necessarily new skills, but skills that are increasing in demand. For example, ‘social media’ skills are not new to the labour market, however over the past five years demand for them has grown in 47 occupations. For some occupations, this demand has grown more than ten times (for ‘hotel or motel managers’ and ‘film and video editors’) and in one case by more than 160 times (for ‘child care centre managers’).

Emerging skills are trending skills that are also new to particular occupations over the past five years. They are distinct from other trending skills because they have recently emerged in some occupations where they were not previously required. For example, ‘infection control’ skills are required by 38 new occupations compared with five years ago, and demand for these skills has grown by more than five times overall.

Emerging and trending skills and the nature of work across roles

Emerging and trending skills analysis can give us close to real-time insights into how Australian jobs are evolving and changing. The fastest emerging skills across the economy are data and digital skills such as those in ‘software orchestration/automation’, ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘data analysis’. Demand is not limited to IT roles, with many conventional roles requiring these emerging skills.

NSC analysis of skills sought by employers from job advertisements and the roles that require them shows that emerging and trending skills in the wider labour market reflect the diversity of the occupations themselves. New skills will continue to be added to jobs, and core competencies such as teamwork skills and organising and planning will continue to be in increased demand across a range of occupations. Encouragingly, the analysis revealed the vocational education and training (VET) system is set up to deliver a range of emerging skills across the breadth of skill types or categories. The NSC will continue to monitor the demand for emerging and trending skills to inform how the VET system can better support the development of these skills.

Emerging and trending skills are affecting the way work is undertaken across many occupations. The skills spreading most quickly across the labour market are ‘infection control’ (trending in 45 of the 600 occupations currently represented in the Australian Skills Classification or ASC, and emerging in 38 others), ‘data analysis’ (trending in 61 occupations and emerging in 11 others), ‘social media’ (trending in 47 occupations and emerging in 18), ‘enterprise resource planning’ (trending in 50 occupations and emerging in 14), ‘equipment repair and maintenance’ (trending in 37 occupations and emerging in 20) and ‘graphic and visual design software’ (trending in 32 occupations and emerging in 14).

The Appendix shows the occupations where the 10 skills spreading most quickly across the labour market are either emerging or trending. The case studies below provide additional detail on several skills.

Identifying and analysing how skill needs within job roles are evolving and changing, and whether or not these skills needs persist, can bring new insights that inform the development of government responses, including short-term economic recovery measures and longer-term reform of the Australian education and training system.

Case study: infection control

In 2015, only 17 of the 600 occupations had at least 2% of job advertisements mentioning ‘infection control’ as a skill. These occupations were also largely health related – including operating theatre technicians, pathology collectors and sterilisation technicians.

By 2020, the number of ASC occupations with at least 2% of job advertisements mentioning ‘infection control’ skills had grown to 85 – and expanded beyond health-related roles to real estate representatives, amusement, fitness and sports managers, and locksmiths.

It is likely that this change is largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the new restrictions and regulations that were imposed on business. Regardless, it illustrates how access to immediate labour market information, including employer demand, can help drive an understanding of how jobs are changing in real time, and whether such trends may persist in future.

Case study: social media skills

Social media is a skill rising in importance – trending in 47 and emerging in 18 occupations. However, it is applied in different ways across these occupations. For managers and sales workers, social media has provided an alternative avenue for digital marketing. Community and personal service workers may use social media as a broad communication channel to keep stakeholders informed, and market research analysts use social media to collect data for campaigns.

Table 18 shows the top jobs for which social media skills are trending or emerging, and shows the growth (in percentage of job advertisements for these occupations requiring this skill) between 2015 and 2020. For some, the growth is significant – demand for these skills in child care centre managers grew from less than 1% of job advertisements in 2015 to just under 15% of job advertisements in 2020.

Table 18: Emerging and trending jobs for social media skills

 

Top Jobs

% of job ads requiring social media skills in 2015

% of job ads requiring social media skills in 2020

 

Growth

Managers

Overall demand:

1.8%

Child Care Centre Manager

0.09

14.86

16,411%

Hotel or Motel Manager

0.54

6.25

1,057%

Public Relations Manager

1.28

3.24

153%

Professionals

Overall demand: 1.9%

Graphic Designer

14.35

24.38

70%

Film and Video Editor

1.83

21.9

1,097%

Market Research Analyst

8.7

17.85

105%

Technicians & Trade Workers

Overall demand: 0.2%

Camera Operator

4.15

17.56

323%

Broadcast Transmitter Operator

3.19

10.45

228%

Web Administrator

4.61

4.63

0%

Community & Personal Service Workers

Overall demand: 0.4%

Fitness Instructor

0.7

1.91

173%

Gallery or Museum Curator

5.16

8.64

67%

Community Worker

1.72

2.06

20%

Clerical & Administrative Workers

Overall demand: 1%

Library Assistant

1.49

4.08

174%

Information O­fficer

0.85

1.54

81%

Switchboard Operator

0

8

New

Sales Workers

Overall demand: 1.5%

Street Vendors and related salesperson

4.93

9.5

93%

Telemarketer

1.15

1.67

45%

Real Estate Agent

0.9

1.19

32%

Sources: Burning Glass Technologies data, 2015-20, NSC analysis

Other trending and emerging skills, such as ‘equipment repair and maintenance’, also feature in a diverse range of occupations in different contexts. Of the 37 occupations which have equipment and repair as trending or emerging skills, 32 relate specifically to preventative maintenance. This is trending in occupations such as ‘ICT quality assurance engineers’, ‘business machine mechanics’ and ‘facilities administrators’, and emerging in occupations including ‘hotel service managers’, ‘agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operators’ and ‘wood machinists’. The rise in this skill is likely to be a result of technology-enabled predictive maintenance and its use in the workplace, and of the broader trend of workers increasingly requiring diagnostic repair skills within their roles 56.

Data and digital skills dominate the fastest growing emerging skills

The fastest growing emerging skills (in terms of percentage of all job listings which request them) are data and digital skills such as those in ‘software orchestration/automation’, ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘data analysis’ 57. For example, since 2015 demand for ‘software orchestration/automation’ has grown almost 30 times, as Figure 61 shows.

Figure 61: Cumulative growth multiple of the share of all skills, past five years compared with 2015

This figure is a bar chart showing the cumulative growth multiple of the share of all skills, past five years compared with 2015. The fastest growing emerging skills are data and digital skills such as those in software orchestration/automation, artificial intelligence and data analysis. Since 2015 demand for software orchestration/automation has grown almost 30 times, as Figure 62 shows.
Sources: Burning Glass Technologies data, 2015-20, NSC analysis

Figure 62 shows the percentage of job advertisements for conventional jobs (which are jobs well-defined in the ANZSCO occupation classification) that require emerging data and digital skills. More than 66% of analyst programmer roles require emerging digital skills, demonstrating the pace at which the roles require individuals to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology. Demand for emerging data and digital skills is not limited to ICT roles; electrical engineering technicians, actuaries, and management consultants also among the top roles requiring skills in these areas.

 

Figure 62: Percentage of conventional jobs requiring data or digital skills

This figure is a bar chart showing the percentage of conventional jobs requiring data or digital skills. More than 66% of analyst programmer roles require emerging digital skills, demonstrating the pace at which the role requires individuals to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology. Demand for emerging data and digital skills is not limited to ICT roles; electrical engineering technicians, actuaries, and management consultants also among the top roles requiring skills in these areas.

Case study: data analysis and job transitions

Demand for data analysis skills is growing fast, and trending in almost 70 job roles, or 12% of the 600 considered.

Data analysis skills are an example of a ‘gateway skill’. Among the trending and emerging skills, gateway skills are those that play a unique role in enabling job transitions with other more specialised skills. They appear in many and diverse occupations and provide a point of transferability between them. To identify these skills, network analysis techniques can help understand when certain skills are requested along with other skills in particular occupations.

As shown in Figure 63, ‘data analysis’ skills are often requested in combination with IT, business, analytics, or science and research skills – including skills in ‘scripting languages’, ‘root cause analysis’, ‘machine learning’ and ‘bioinformatics’ 58. A person in an analytic role who possesses ‘data analysis’ and ‘machine learning’ skills may be able to build on these with skills in ‘scripting languages’ to go on to work in an IT role, and further specialise by building skills in Software as a Service (Saas) development, Git, Agile PM software or Cloud Service to build their new IT career. Coupled with other information on the skills that underpin Australian occupations, including from the ASC, analysis of gateway skills will help us to better understand job transition pathways and how best to support and enable them.

Figure 63: Gateway skill map for data analysis skills

This figure is a bubble chart which maps data analysis skills. Data analysis skills are often requested in combination with IT, business, analytics, or science and research skills – including skills in scripting languages, root cause analysis, machine learning and bioinformatics.
Source: NSC analysis

Emerging skills are driving jobs growth in emerging jobs

By analysing the highest growth job titles associated with trending skills, we can see how these skills may contribute to demand for emerging jobs. For example, demand for skills in ‘big data’, ‘data architecture’ and ‘scripting languages’ is driving demand for ‘data engineers’, ‘data scientists’ and ‘data governance analysts’. Similarly, demand for skills in ‘content development and management’, ‘front end development’ and ‘social media’ is driving growth in demand for ‘content writers’, ‘user interface designers’ and ‘social media managers’ 59.

Understanding which in-demand skills are linked to growing jobs can help inform more up-to-date labour market advice, programs and policies. It can also give closer to real-time insights into labour market trends.

For example, increases in demand for ‘infection control’, ‘public health’ and ‘mental health management’ skills in care occupations are unsurprising given the impacts of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The psychological impacts of prolonged business and social restriction have led to increased demand for ‘mental health management’ skills across occupations, but also have led to growth in demand for jobs such as ‘school psychologist’ and ‘mental health clinician’.

Similarly, NSC analysis suggests that patient care and information management skills are rising in demand across supporting and enabling care occupations, as the medical and general practice system adapts to the demand of current conditions. This has led to increased demand for jobs such as ‘allied health assistant’, ‘home care worker’, ‘health information officer’ and ‘clinical care coordinator’.

It is likely that demand for emerging jobs in the digital, data and online engagement sectors is driven both by the increasing uptake of technology overall, and a shift to online business models driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. The increasing need to collect, manage and safely store data and information online is leading to demand for skills in ‘data management, architecture and analysis’, ‘cloud solutions’ and ‘scripting languages’ in jobs such as ‘data engineer’ and ‘cyber security analyst’. ‘Content writers’ and ‘user interface designers’ with skills in ‘content development’ as well as ‘front end development’ will help businesses find, reach, and keep customers engaged and help keep their businesses in operation.

Changing business practices are also driving growth in emerging jobs in the business and project management fields. ‘Agile coaches’ and ‘product designers’ are in demand for their ‘product design’ and ‘software-as-a-service’ skills 60. ‘Customer success managers’ and ‘risk managers’ ensure the customer experience keeps customers engaged and helps keep in check the risks that come with implementing new business models and practices.

Emerging and trending skills in the wider labour market

Trending and emerging skills are affecting the way work is undertaken across many occupations in the labour market. New skills such as infection control, social media and data analysis are spreading quickly cross the labour market and core competencies such as teamwork will continue to be in increased demand across most occupations.

It is useful to consider how emerging and trending skills are affecting the labour market. Table 19 considers the top employing occupations in the Australian labour market, and the top trending skills for those jobs – including how they map to existing skills in the ASC.

The top trending skills across these occupations reflect the diversity of the occupations themselves – ranging from electrical control system design to safe chemical disposal. Combining this information with other data, such as from the ASC, will provide rich information on how the skills within jobs are changing, whether these trends are persisting, and how best people can be helped to develop the skills required by employers.

Table 19: Top employing Australian occupations from each sector and their top trending skills

Largest occupation in sector (ANZSCO major code)

Top trending skills

Australian Skills Classification closest skills

Intensity 2015

Intensity 2020

Managers

Retail manager

Customer service enhancement

New

0.02%

1.15%

Loss control / prevention

Monitor work areas to provide security

0.17%

1.59%

Retail operations

Establish operational policies

5.73%

7.69%

Professionals

Registered Nurse

Infection control

Treat acute illness or infections

1.46%

6.30%

Clinical leadership

Supervise patient care staff

3.80%

5.60%

Community health care

Advise communities regarding health care

3.29%

4.20%

Technicians & Trade Workers

Electricians

Electrical control systems design

New

0.55%

1.30%

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

1.15%

2.10%

Schematic diagram design

New

1.25%

1.60%

Community & Personal Service Workers

Aged and Disabled Carer

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

Administer health care or medical treatments

6.27%

16.00%

Meal preparation

Prepare food

6.22%

9.20%

Medical administration

Administer health care or medical treatments

1.16%

6.80%

Clerical & Administrative Workers

General Clerks

Social media

Social media and web publishing software

1.26%

1.36%

Sales Workers

Sales Assistant

Payment processing

Process sales or transactions

1.12%

1.92%

Retail operations

New

1.03%

1.24%

Machinery Operators and Drivers

Truck Drivers

Commercial driving

Operate vehicles or moving equipment

0.06%

1.01%

Haulage transport

New

1.03%

1.24%

Labourers

Commercial Cleaners

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

New

0.10%

1.40%

Safe chemical disposal

Dispose of rubbish or waste materials

0.17%

1.35%

Sources: Burning Glass Technologies data, 2015-20, NSC analysis

Note: ‘Sector’ is defined by the ANZSCO major groups (or one digit codes). There are eight in total, covering the whole labour market. This table gives information for the largest employing six digit occupation within each major group. For example, in the professionals major group the largest employing six digit occupation is registered nurse

Demand for core competencies during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in demand for core competencies or ‘employability skills’ such as teamwork, planning and organising, and problem-solving skills.

Core competencies are the basic building blocks common across most occupations and industries. They refer to a set of non-specialist skills gained in early life and schooling and provide a base to further develop skills and specialties. Popular terms for these include ‘foundation skills’, ‘common skills’, ‘soft skills’, ‘core skills’ and ‘employability skills’.

These skills are important to employers. A 2019 survey conducted by the then Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business found that 75% of employers considered employability skills to be as important as, if not more important than, technical skills 61.

NSC analysis demonstrates that the importance of employability skills has not diminished, and can grow under pandemic conditions. Skills relating to resilience and flexibility (such as ‘problem solving’, ‘learning’, ‘initiative and innovation’) and to managing tasks and staffing logistics outside more conventional and established working arrangements (‘oral communication’, ‘teamwork’ and ‘planning and organising’) have proved critical in a rapidly changing labour market.

For example, Figure 64 shows that demand for ‘planning and organising’ skills for ‘fitters’ grew around 500% from 2019 to 2020, significantly more than the growth during the five years before. Similar patterns of growth can be seen for ‘private tutors and teachers’, and ‘importer or exporter’

Figure 64: Jobs with the most growth in planning and organising skills

This figure is a bar chart showing jobs with the most growth in planning and organising skills. Demand for planning and organising skills for fitters grew around 500% from 2019 to 2020, significantly more than the growth during the five years before.
Sources: Burning Glass Technologies data, 2015-20, NSC analysis

Figure 65 shows there has been an increase in demand for teamwork skills across a range of occupations. Advertisements requesting teamwork rose for many jobs, particularly in frontline and essential jobs over the pandemic.

This is likely to be due to the significant and often volatile surges in demand across the supply chain and health systems, indicating the importance of teamwork for reliable service delivery. Examples of this include jobs for shelf fillers, who were in high demand during the 2019-20 bushfire season and during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Job listings explicitly requesting teamwork skills rose rapidly from a baseline of 5% in 2015 to 30% of shelf filler jobs by 2020.

This analysis demonstrates that core competencies remain relevant and in some cases are more in demand in times of economic change and uncertainty.

Figure 65: Percentage of job advertisements requesting teamwork skills, 2015 to 2020

This figure is a line chart showing the percentage of job advertisements requesting teamwork skills between 2015 and 2020. There has been an increase in demand for teamwork skills across a range of occupations including shelf filler, forestry worker, health and welfare service manager and dairy cattle farm worker.

Emerging and trending skills and the VET system

It is important that Australians have access to quality training so they can develop emerging and trending skills. A responsive and dynamic vocational education and training (VET) system can help support the real needs of industry and equip individuals with skills that will help them succeed in the long term. An NSC analysis of existing qualifications, skill sets and units in the VET system found a number of these already provide training in relevant emerging and trending skills. Table 20 gives examples of the units, skills sets and qualifications or accredited courses delivering these skills across a range of emerging skills areas.

Table 20: Emerging skills in the VET system

Emerging areas​

Example Units​

Example Skill sets​

Example Qualifications​

Data

BSBDAT501 Analyse Data

 

 

AHCWRK502 Collect and manage data

ICTSS004004 Data Analysis Skill Set

 

BSBSS00092 Manage Big data skill set

10917NAT Diploma of Data Science

 

BSB50120 Diploma of Business (Digital Data)

Digital

ICTPRG446 prepare software development review

 

ICTCLD508 Manage infrastructure in cloud environments

ICTSS00405 Internet of Things Developer Skill Set

 

ICTSS00099 – Cloud Design and Configuration Skill Set

ICT50220 – Diploma of Information Technology

 

10621NAT Diploma of Cyber Security

Care

SHBBINF001 Maintain infection control standards

 

 

HLTAHW069 Develop health care policy

BSBSS000095 Cross sector infection control skill set

 

CHCSS00102 Mental health co-existing needs skill set

PUA42912 Certificate IV in Public Safety (Biosecurity Response Leadership)

 

CHC 43315 Certificate IV in Mental Health

Agile PM

ICTICT530 Design use experience solutions

 

ICTICT529 Organise and lead agile projects

 

22446VIC Diploma of Product Design

 

ICT40120 Certificate IV in Information Technology

Business

TLIX0009X Digital supply chain risk management practices

 

SIRXCEG003 Build customer relationships and loyalty

BSBSS00105 Human Resources Foundation Skill Set

 

SIRSS00027 People Management in Retail

TLI50219 Diploma of Logistics

 

 

BSB40120 Certificate IV in Business (Operations)

Online Engagement

SIRXMKT007 Developing a digital marketing plan

 

 

ICTWEB306 Develop web presence using social media

SORSS00016 Ecommerce Management

 

CAUGRD601 Engage in the business of graphic design

BSB40820 Certificate IV in Marketing and Communication

 

CAUA5075 Diploma of Graphic Design

Engineering and Trades

ERPBIM004 Order fulfilment and customer service with ERP systems

 

MEM09210A Create 3-D solid models using computer-aided design systems

TLISS000099 Logistics Product Management Skill Set

MEASS00412 MTA065 Machine aeronautical product component parts using NC/CNC machining centres

UEE41611 Certificate IV in Renewable Energy

 

10287NAT Diploma of Environmental Management

Sources: Department of Education, Skills and Employment, data from www.training.gov.au, NSC analysis

Footnotes

56

Predictive maintenance is maintenance that monitors the performance and condition of equipment during normal operation to reduce the likelihood of failures.

57

Software orchestration/automation refers to the automated configuration, management and coordination of computer systems, applications, and services, helping IT to more easily manage complex tasks and workflows.

58

Scripting languages are used to automate certain programming tasks, they are generally less code intensive than traditional languages, allowing for more compatibility and integrated coding. A common example is the facilitation of machine learning by Python. Root cause analysis (RCA) is a process or framework of problem-solving used for identifying and addressing underlying causes of system failures or incidents. RCA is evolving and is being increasingly applied in enterprise management and organisational settings. Bioinformatics is a subdiscipline of biology and computer science concerned with the acquisition, storage, analysis, and dissemination of biological data, most often DNA and amino acid sequences.

59

The NSC report Emerging occupations, 2020, deliberately excluded alternative job titles. The work reported here will feed into the next Emerging occupations report, and this may involve an expansion of the original definitions and methodology. In Emerging occupations, 2020, NSC results were validated against ABS microdata. The new emerging occupations mentioned in this chapter have not gone through this process.

60

Agile coaches train corporate teams on the agile methodology (an iterative approach to project management and software development). Also, they oversee the development of agile teams and guide them through project implementation processes.